Amazon Fire TV Just Leveled the Playing Field With Apple TV

Amazon Fire TV's services just expanded significantly. Here's what you need to know.

Aug 4, 2014 at 7:00PM

Amazon stock, Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV's app selection has more than doubled since its April launch. Credit: Amazon.com.

If the value proposition of Amazon.com's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Fire TV has left any consumers sitting on the fence, the Web giant's latest move could provide just the push they need.

That's not to say Fire TV was struggling. When Amazon reported its second-quarter results less than two weeks ago, it told investors that "Fire TV sales have significantly exceeded our sales forecast and we are working hard to increase our manufacturing output."

But on Monday, Amazon announced that Fire TV's app selection has more than doubled, with "hundreds" of new services and games added since the media streaming device was launched in April. Among Fire TV's new games are Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Dungeon Quest, Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse, and the official Flappy Birds Family -- the last of which is currently a Fire TV exclusive. Meanwhile, new services include WATCH Disney Channel, WATCH Disney Jr., MLB.TV, Animal Planet Live, and WWE Network.

If that wasn't enough, Amazon promised more significant Fire TV services to come by the end of the year, including WATCH ABC, WATCH ABC Family, NFL Now, A&E, Lifetime, Outside TV, Young Hollywood, North Face TV, Fashion TV, Green TV, and Dailymotion.

Of course, some might observe this merely levels the playing field between Amazon's $99 device and its primary competition in Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) TV. And that's a fair argument, especially considering that Apple TV has long offered several of the services Amazon is only promising will arrive on Fire TV by the end of 2014. What's more, Apple TV boasts a key advantage in its slick full-screen mirroring functionality through AirPlay -- a feat only recently matched solely by Google's Chromecast media streaming stick.

But at the same time, we shouldn't forget Fire TV's other key differentiators, including beefy hardware specifications, intelligent streaming software, voice search that actually works, and effective parental controls through Amazon's unique FreeTime interface.

Meanwhile, even though the Amazon Fire Game Controller doesn't have the most aesthetically pleasing design, it's a solid step in the right direction toward promoting the thousands of Android-based video games users can enjoy through Fire TV.

Amazon stock, Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Game Studios' Sev Zero is one of Fire TV's top 5 most-downloaded apps. Image credit: Amazon.

In fact, Amazon also said that Amazon Game Studios' $6.99 Sev Zero title is one of the five most-downloaded games on Fire TV since launch. It's worth noting, however, that this performance was undoubtedly aided by the fact that Sev Zero is included for free with the purchase of Amazon's console-style controller, which is required to play some of Fire TV's more comprehensive games.

But whether consumers are paying outright for the controller or Sev Zero itself shouldn't matter to investors. Either way, it's apparent Amazon is working hard to promote Fire TV both as a viable gaming platform and as a leading video streaming device.

If Fire TV extends its success over the long term, it'll inevitably mean additional higher-margin digital media sales for Amazon. Considering that the company doesn't exactly operate in the highest-margin business to begin with, FireTV's latest service expansion should be music to Amazon shareholders' ears.  

Steve Symington owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com, Apple, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com, Apple, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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